No matter if you are looking to start up a new website, or give your present one a fresh look- there are a lot of visual elements to take into consideration. Templates can make the whole process a lot easier, but there are some things to take into consideration before changing the look.
The focus below is on templates, and why simpler is better.
Giving your website an overhaul can be a good way to get new visitors, or even more attention. While it isn’t an easy strategy, or even one that has any sort of guaranteed success rate- it may help a surprising bit- if done properly.
While at times a redesign and overall reboot can come out of necessity*, it can more effective if you plan it out fully and properly ahead of time (future posts will focus on those rules as well).
There are certain elements that work better, they are at time not what many would expect, I’ve seen some surprising results even here, with paradox9.com and notquitecookiecutter.com that have been huge learning experiences.
The two main tips:
- Fancier isn’t always better. I used to primarily use magazine styled templates. While they are indeed nice looking, simpler is better. As soon as I started using the more basic set up, visits boomed.
- Think like a user, not as the owner. Users and owners are sometimes looking for two different things. An owner will place importance on things that the typical user simply isn’t looking for.
Simple VS Magazine Style: While I loved using the fancy templates for WordPress, they aren’t always appropriate or
Sure- many of them are stunning, they simply aren’t right for the average blog. A template that is ‘more typical’ may seem a bit on the boring side, they are generally much better for 99% of the websites out there.
How do you ‘think like a user’?: My favorite piece of advice is imagining the ‘Man From Mars’ (or, your mom, dad or grandparent) using your website. Can they find their way around easy? What would they have problems with?
You needs to make sure that elements are easy to find, and in places they would be expected. Mystery meat navigation, confusing link names, and other odd
For those using a more traditional code set up, here is something that may make the process easier:
Dynamic Drive has a relatively newer area geared towards .css needs and they have a few example templates up (that are downloadable and free). Even if you are using it only for ideas, simplicity is the key.
Admittedly, my websites are mostly blogs (save for a few) and I do have a heavier lean towards that type of set up. Regardless, the same ‘simplicity is best’ mantra is still true.
* *coughcough* like the times I’ve crashed the database here *coughcough*